California Faces First Pac-10 Opponents At Hellman

Jan. 30, 2008


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Fri., Feb. 1 - 1:30 p.m.
Hellman Tennis Complex
Berkeley, Calif.
vs. No. 6 USC

Sat., Feb. 2 - 1 p.m.
Hellman Tennis Complex
Berkeley, Calif.
vs. No. 9 UCLA

BEAR NOTES: The No. 26 California men's tennis team (3-1) will face its first Pac-10 opponents in dual matches this weekend at Hellman Tennis Complex. The Golden Bears will host No. 6 USC (3-0) Friday in a 1:30 p.m. start and then take on No. 9 UCLA (1-0) Saturday at 1 p.m. Cal will also travel to Los Angeles to take on these two teams later in the season. Only the second meeting between the teams will count towards the Pac-10 Conference standings.

LAST WEEK: Coming off an upset win over then No. 11 Oklahoma State, the Bears hosted Nevada (0-1) and St. Mary's (1-2) in back-to-back dual matches last Saturday at Hellman Tennis Complex. Cal came away with a 6-1 victory over the Wolfpack, extending the series record over Nevada to six wins and no losses. The Bears won all three doubles matches and suffered only one loss in singles on court No. 1 as senior Pierre Mouillon fell to Wolfpack leader Laurent Garcin 6-2, 6-1. After defeating Nevada, the Bears had little time to rest before facing the Gaels on the court. Playing singles first, Cal fought hard to earn four points on courts two, four, five and six. Freshman Jonathan Dahan clinched the win for the Bears, getting the 7-5, 6-2 victory over Achim Christner. However, it was freshman Bozhidar Katsarov who was the last to complete his match, falling in three sets to St. Mary's Lucas Tirelli 6-4, 2-6, 6-1. The loss snapped Katsarov's eight-match winning streak. The Bears completed the weekend with sweep of the two schools and moved their record to 3-1 on the young season.

HOLDING COURT - NO. 6 USC: Behind just rival Stanford, Cal has faced USC (3-0) on the court the most times. The two teams will take the court on Friday for the 160th meeting between the schools. The Trojans hold a 119-36-4 record in dual matches against the Bears, most recently taking 7-0 and 6-1 victory last season. USC is coached by sixth-year head coach Peter Smith, the 2007 Pac-10 Coach of the Year. He has a 350-181 record (80-46 at USC) and has taken his teams to the NCAA Tournament for 12 consecutive seasons. On the court, the Trojans boast the No. 2 doubles team in the nation of sophomore Robert Farah and senior Kaes Van't Hof. Farah alone holds the No. 9 ranking among the nation's top singles players. USC comes into the weekend with its three wins coming against No. 75 San Diego (5-2), UC Irvine (6-1) and No. 50 San Diego State (6-1).

HOLDING COURT - NO. 9 UCLA: The Bruins (1-0) and Bears will meet on the court for the 154th time on Saturday with UCLA holding the upper hand in the series record at 114-38-1. In two meetings last season, the No. 4 and No. 10 ranked Bruins defeated Cal 7-0, twice. UCLA is coached by 15th year head coach Billy Martin who has amassed a 322-63 career record and was named the 1996 ITA National Coach of the Year. The Bruins come in ranked No. 9 after coming from behind to defeat No. 17 Pepperdine 5-2 last weekend. Senior Harel Srugo defeated No. 22 Andre Begemann of Pepperdine 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to clinch the first win of the season for UCLA. Bruin sophomores Mathieu Dehaine and Haythem Abid are ranked No. 32 and No. 38 respectively in the ITA singles rankings while no Bruin duo holds a national ranking.

HEAD COACH Peter Wright: Considered one of the best teachers and tacticians in men's collegiate tennis, Peter Wright's coaching talent hasn't gone unnoticed. Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2001 and in 1997, he received his first coaching award in 1994 when he was named Wilson/ITA Regional Coach of the Year for guiding the Bears back to postseason play after Cal had missed the Big Dance the previous two seasons. Wright has compiled a 193-138 (.581) career record during his tenure in Berkeley. Last season, with a 14-10 overall record (4-3 Pac-10, tied for third), the Bears made their eighth consecutive postseason appearance in the NCAA Tournament, 13th of the 14 years under Wright's guidance. A four-year letterman during his collegiate career at Cal, Wright worked his way to the No. 1 singles and doubles positions in the Bears lineup before joining the men's professional tour in 1986.

IMPORT MODEL: Senior captain Ken Nakahara leads by example and looks to have his Golden Bears ready for matches by firing them up with his intensity and passion for the sport. He put up 10 wins in fall individual tournaments including earning the Blue Flight title at the Chandler Cup. The senior also teamed with freshman Zach Gilbert to advance to the doubles final at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic.

DON'T YAWN ON MOULLON: Senior Pierre Mouillon was named the 2007 ITA West Region Player to Watch at the end of the 2006-07 season. Coming into the dual match play, Mouillon is ready to prove what made him all the rage last season, earning him a No. 14 preseason ranking in the fall.

NO HELMET NECESSARY: Junior Geoff Chizever is one-half of the Bears' most formidable doubles team. Chizever didn't always have a racquet in his hand though. He was a record-setting quarterback for Viewpoint High School in Calabasas, Calif. where he earned Liberty League MVP honors for four consecutive years (2001-04). His record-setting ways has his name at the top of the list in his former league for most touchdowns, most completions, most yards gained and best competition percentage for a career. On the court, Chizever teamed with freshman Pedro Zerbini this fall to top all Cal duos with a 10-2 record, winning the Chandler Cup doubles title and advancing to the doubles semifinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship.

HEAVEY LIFTING: Junior Eoin Heavey looks to shoulder a much larger load this season as he will play predominantly from court No. 3 in singles but will also be asked to contribute his talents in doubles. Already, Heavey has proven his mettle, clinching the upset win for the Bears against No. 11 Oklahoma State on the road with a 6 -3, 4-6, 7-5 victory over No. 77 Dmytro Petrov on Jan. 20.

BO KNOWS: Freshman Bozhidar Katsarov won more singles matches than any Bear in fall tournaments. His 13-4 mark in individual tournament play earned him singles titles at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic and the Chandler Cup. His play at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship helped him advance to the singles semifinal. In dual matches, Katsarov will contribute from the fourth court for the Bears and has already upped his total wins to 16 as a freshman.

IT'S IN THE BLOOD: Freshman Zach Gilbert is the son of former tennis pro, television commentator and current tennis coach Brad Gilbert. The elder Gilbert won 20 singles titles as a pro and reached a world ranking of No. 4 in 1990. As a coach, Gilbert has tutored many internationally renowned stars including Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.

FALL 2007 TOURNAMENTS: The Golden Bears emerged from the fall tournament season with a 64-46 record in singles matches, and notched 25 wins in doubles play. In solo competition, freshman Bozhidar Katsarov led all Bears with 13 wins and only four losses on his way to claiming titles at the 2007 Fresno State Bulldog Classic and at the Cal Chandler Cup. Katsarov's four consecutive victories in Seattle, Wash. also helped him to advance to the singles quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championships. Senior captain Ken Nakahara had 10 wins including five-straight to capture the Blue Flight title at the Chandler Cup. Nakahara was also able to advance to the round of 32 at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. In doubles play, the duo of junior Geoff Chizever and freshman Pedro Zerbini experienced the most success, advancing to the semifinal at the 2007 Bulldog Classic before getting to the quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. The pair won the Chandler Cup doubles title with four strong wins to close out the fall season.

2006-07 SEASON RECAP: The Golden Bears completed the 2007 dual campaign with a 14-10 overall record and went 4-3 in Pac-10 Conference play to finish in a tie for third place and a No. 42 ITA national ranking. Cal went to the NCAA Championship Tournament for the eighth consecutive year, tying a school record and faced No. 26 Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla. in the first round. The Sooners edged the Bears in a 4-3 win to end Cal's season. Junior Pierre Mouillon was the Pac-10's Player of the Week for the week of Mar. 19 and received All-Pac-10 Conference First Team honors. Mouillon was also named the ITA West Region's Player to Watch at season's end. Senior Tyler Browne was an All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention and fellow seniors John Petit and Daniel Sebescen made the 2007 Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team.

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